The two most important things to remember when it’s hot are:
- Never leave people or pets alone inside a car
- Always stay hydrated with water
Extreme heat events are becoming increasingly common in WA. In these conditions your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to severe heat related illnesses and, in some cases, even death. Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards.
People in the community who are most at risk in a heatwave include people who are:
- 65 years and older
- Taking multiple medications e.g. diuretics, antihistamines
- Chronically unwell with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's or respiratory diseases
- Unable to adapt their behaviour to keep cool due to dementia, disability, substance abuse, obesity, pregnancy or breastfeeding; and/or
- Impacted by environmental factors e.g. homeless, outdoor workers, sports people
There are steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the heat.
You can plan ahead to be prepared for hot weather and heatwaves. You could:
- Find places in your community where you could go to get cool
- Look at additional ways to keep your home cool:
- Cover windows with curtains
- Add insulation to keep heat out
- Install and maintain air conditioners
- Reduce the heat coming in through windows by creating shade with awnings, trees, patios or shade cloth
- Learn to recognise the signs of heat-related illness
Stay safe in a heatwave
It is important to remember in hot weather that you should never leave people or pets alone inside a car
To help keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy, you can:
- Drink plenty of water;
- Rest often and, whenever possible, stay indoors or in the shade;
- Look for signs of heat-related illness;
- Find places with air conditioning (such as libraries, shops or swimming pools etc.);
- Keep cool in your home:
- Close curtains and windows during the day to keep the heat out
- Turn your air-conditioner on before the room heats up
- Take a cool shower or bath, or put your feet in a bowl of cool water
- Ensure your pets are well hydrated and have plenty of water and shade if they are outside
- Avoid high-energy activities;
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing;
- Check-in on at risk family, friends and neighbours.
After a heatwave, it is important to stay hydrated, check-in with any at-risk family, friends and neighbours and be aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses.
How to recognise heat-related illness
Heat-related illness is progressive – if the person is not treated or remains in a hot environment it can be fatal. Know the signs and how to respond.
Muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs.
Take the person to a cooler location, remove excess clothing, give sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar and get medical help if symptoms don’t improve.
Signs (not all will be present):
Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, nausea, vomiting, temperature.
Take the person to an air-conditioned place and lie down, loosen or remove clothing, give a cool bath, give sips of cool sports drinks with salt and sugar. Get medical help if symptoms don’t improve or get worse.
- The person stops sweating;
- Skin can be pink, warm and dry, or cool and blue;
- Extremely high body temperature (above 39 degrees);
- Rapid, strong pulse;
- Headaches, dizziness, clumsiness and confusion;
- Nausea and/or vomiting;
- Collapse, seizures and unconsciousness;
- Cardiac arrest.
Call 000 or get the person to a hospital immediately. Cool down with whatever methods are available until medical help arrives.
Keep your pets safe in hot weather
Never leave your pet in your car.
Just like us, many animals can be affected by heat stress or heat stroke. However, while humans can sweat, dogs, cats and other pets can only release heat through areas not covered by fur, mostly their paws. Similar to humans, the old and the young are often the most vulnerable. Certain breeds can also be more vulnerable to the heat. To keep your pets safe and happy:
- Make sure your pet/s have plenty of water and shade in a well-ventilated area
- Invest in a small paddling pool or turn the sprinklers or hose on so they can get a bit of a shower
- Don’t take them for midday walks as the hot pavement can burn their feet (if it’s uncomfortable for you to walk barefoot then it will be for them too)
- Avoid excessive exercise
Watch for signs of heatstroke
The signs of heatstroke can vary, but watch your pet for any changes in behaviour, disinterest in food and water, isolating themselves and heavy panting. If your pet is lethargic, relentlessly panting, drooling, vomiting or collapsing get them to a vet IMMEDIATELY.
Visit the RSPCA website for more information